New bird species found in Indonesia

By Xinhua

Jakarta : Two Indonesian scientists have discovered a new bird species named Togian white-eye (Zosterops Somadikartai) in the country’s Togian Islands, media reports said Saturday.

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The newly-found bird is small, has green plumage and a red beak. It is very active and moves in small flocks, the Jakarta Post quoted the scientists as saying.

However, unlike its closest relatives and despite its name ‘white-eye’, red feathers circle the bird’s eyes and its beak is intense red.

The species is being reported for the first time, 12 years after researchers, Indrawan and Sunarto, spotted the bird. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology published the new finding in its latest edition.

The two scientists collaborated with well-known taxonomist Pamela Rasmussen of Michigan State University, who specialises in Asian birds, to conduct the final research of their finding.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the bird is endangered and found only in the islands of Central Sulawesi.

The species is named after Somadikarta, Indonesia’s leading taxonomist, who was recently appointed as the honorary president of the International Ornithological Congress XXV scheduled to be held in Brazil in 2010.

“I’m happy they put my name on it because it is an endangered species,” Somadikarta said.

This finding has established the Togian Islands as an endemic bird habitat. According to conservation organisation BirdLife International, a region can be established as an endemic bird area if more than two bird species, which do not exist in other regions, are found there.

Indrawan and his team previously found a new owl species, (Togian hawk-owl) Ninox burhani, in the Togian Islands. The owl was named after a local farmer.